Is your child ready to ditch the diapers? While you’re probably ready for that, too, the next phase of childhood is one of the most challenging: toilet training.
Potty training typically takes place between 22 and 30 months, but each child is different. Girls, however, are normally ready to potty train before boys, but that doesn’t make the process any easier.
If you’re looking for tips for toilet training a girl, look no further. Here, Dr. Nakia Allen, a Henry Ford Health System pediatrician based in Detroit, offers potty training advice.
Toddlers love to imitate everything you do – good or bad. Why not let your daughter watch you go to the bathroom so she can learn, too?
“You have to model the behavior for your child so they know this is a normal part of your day,” Allen says.
Have your child sit on her potty when you sit on yours – and be sure to tell your child what she should be doing step by step.
Use her favorite doll or stuffed animal to demonstrate how to use the potty, too. Many kids love this. Their toy tends to do everything with them anyway, so going potty can be something they “do together,” as well.
There are even baby dolls that come with their own potty, so you can have the doll sitting on that potty while your child is sitting on hers.
2. Buy the right equipment
Because many kids are afraid of the larger toilet, consider purchasing a child-sized potty.
There are also adapter seats. These are helpful to have on hand when your child expresses that she want to try out the bigger potty. The soft, cushy seat fits on top of your toilet and is more comfortable for your kid to train on. Most have cool characters on them, too – plus handles for kids to hold onto so they feel safe.
It’s also a good idea to get a few books and movies about potty training. Kids enjoy watching their favorite characters using the potty – and it might encourage them to do so, too.
A couple training items worth considering include Potette, a two-in-one portable potty that’s been around for more than 17 years and helped millions of moms potty train their toddlers.
Or try the Potty Watch by Potty Time, Inc. – a watch that helps your little one feel more independent and reminds her when to go.
3. Help her get comfortable
Another key factor among tips for toilet training a girl: Don’t push your daughter to start until she’s ready. A possible sign? “Your child is ready to start toilet training when they follow you into the bathroom and play in or flush the toilet,” Allen says.
First, get your daughter familiar with her potty, FamilyDoctor.org notes. Have her sit on it with her clothes on – just to see what it feels like.
Then, after a couple weeks or so, let her sit on the toilet, even if she doesn’t have to go. Again, this is just to see what that feels like.
Baby Center suggests letting girls personalize their potties with their name or let them decorate it with stickers. It’s important that your child feels like this is hers and that it is something very special for just her.
4. Set up a schedule
Setting up a toilet training schedule may be difficult. It’s important to know when it’s the “right” time.
You do not want to start potty training your child right when there’s a big move or something else stressful happening in your family’s life. This might cause your child to regress, and you will end up right back where you started.
There are many different toilet training methods that you can try. Some parents let their child go naked for a few consecutive days. Others have a calculated time that their child should go no matter what – such as every 30, 60 or 90 minutes.
Allen recommends books about the three-day method, which she has found helpful with some of her patients.
“Parents just have to put in the time and be committed,” she says. “It’s important to have patience when cleaning up accidents.”
It’s also important to talk to your child’s daycare provider, babysitter or teacher so that everyone is on the same page. This will help your child remain consistent while toilet training.
They should be doing the same thing with your child that you are doing at home. If you give stickers, for example, then they should, too.
5. Help her with hygiene
Teach your child how to wipe – and remind her time and time again to wipe front to back. Explain the importance of doing this to avoid getting an infection. Parents initially should also wipe after their daughter does to make sure she is dry and clean.
Allen says parents should speak to their girls about clean vs. dirty, because that’s something that a child can grasp at this age. You know that adorable Charmin toilet paper bear? Use him as a hygienic role model. Cartoon critters resonate with kids.
Allen also says parents should be sure to stress the importance of hand washing after going to the bathroom.
6. Motivate and reward
Before your daughter starts potty training, take her shopping for big girl underwear, Baby Center suggests. Let her pick out the type she wants, and chances are higher she’ll want to wear them – and be motivated to ditch those diapers.
“No one wants to pee on Lightning McQueen,” Allen says.
The way you set up the incentives is up to you, but rewarding her for her successes helps make your daughter want to try harder to go on the potty.
Once she starts training, you can also use stickers as an incentive. “Children love stickers, so that’s a great one,” Allen says.
Try toys, candy, juice, raisins or good old positive reinforcement, as well. Be mindful of the materialism factor, though: Allen says you don’t want your child getting used to getting rewards, because she’ll expect it every time she goes.
7. Positivity and patience
Accidents do happen. You should always have a positive outlook on toilet training so that your daughter will, too.
Kids can sense when something is upsetting you – and if they think it is them, then all that pressure might get them upset, as well.
“Be patient,” Allen says. “(Putting the) cellphone down and be(ing) patient is the whole key to the process.”
This post was originally published in 2018 and is updated regularly.